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Title: Red Tara : lineages of literature and practice
Author: Stevens, Rachael
ISNI:       0000 0004 2712 2710
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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Tārā is arguably the most popular goddess of the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. She is well known in her Green, White, and Twenty-one forms. However, the numerous red aspects of the divinity have long been overlooked in both popular and academic literature on the goddess. This thesis aims to redress this balance. This thesis presents the various manifestations of Red Tārā in the form of a survey of the literary and practice lineages of this goddess throughout Tibetan Buddhist history. The intention of the thesis is to examine individual forms of Red Tārā, excluding Kurukullā (who has received previous scholarly attention), in order to prove the hypothesis that not all Red Tārās are Kurukullā. The research has identified a preliminary historical order of Red Tārā lineages from the eleventh century works on Pītheśvarī and the Sa-skya-pa Red Tārās, through to the nineteenth and twentieth century forms of the goddess authored by the dGe-lugs-pas and A-paṃ gter-ston in the A-mdo region of Tibet. The red forms of Tārā are more 'worldly' than her Green or White incarnations, and the soteriological component of her worship is not always clear. Accordingly this allows a glimpse into the subjugating/ magnetising ritual process. The thesis comprises three sections. Section One provides a general introduction to Tārā and Kurukullā, followed by a survey of the literature pertaining to Red Tārā identified in the course of this research. Section Two takes four lineages of Red Tārā literature as its focus. Each chapter refers to an individual lineage: Pītheśvarī, Sa-skya-pa, the Twenty-one Tārās, and A-paṃ gter-ton's gter-ma cycle. Section Three deals with modern-day practice of the goddess in the Chagdud Gonpa Foundation and the Flaming Jewel Sangha. The thesis relies on translation of primary sources from the Tibetan language, participant observation, and New Religious Studies methodology, and covers a wide range of areas including subjugation rituals, iconography, body-maṇḍala rituals, the adoption of Buddhism in the West, and New Religious Movements. It adds to current knowledge in a variety of fields including ritual, goddess studies, the Tibetan pantheon and its iconography, and Buddhism in the West.
Supervisor: Ramble, Charles ; Mayer, Robert Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Buddhism ; Tibetan ; Tibetan Buddhism ; ritual ; Tara ; Buddhist goddesses ; new religious movements ; Tibet ; iconography